Supplementary material from "Hidden diversity of Acoelomorpha revealed through metabarcoding"

Posted on 21.09.2016 - 13:20 by Roysoc production
Animals with bilateral symmetry comprise the majority of the described species within Metazoa. However, the nature of the first bilaterian animal remains unknown. As most recent molecular phylogenies point to Xenacoelomorpha as the sister group to the rest of Bilateria, understanding their biology, ecology and diversity is key to reconstructing the nature of the last common bilaterian ancestor (Urbilateria). To date, sampling efforts have focused mainly on coastal areas, leaving potential gaps in our understanding of the full diversity of xenacoelomorphs. We therefore analysed 18S rDNA metabarcoding data from three marine projects covering benthic and pelagic habitats worldwide. Our results show that acoels have a greater richness in planktonic environments than previously described. Interestingly, we also identified a putative novel clade of acoels in the deep benthos that branches as sister group to the rest of Acoela, thus representing the earliest-branching acoel clade. Our data highlight deep-sea environments as an ideal habitat to sample acoels with key phylogenetic positions, which might be useful for reconstructing the early evolution of Bilateria.

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